Philadelphia Union Aim to Defend Home Turf vs. FC Dallas

The Philadelphia Union are riding a two-game winning streak and will be going for three straight when they host FC Dallas this weekend. Nationally, not many were giving the Union a chance to even draw in Cincinnati. Well, they pretty much handed FC Cincinnati a beat-down in their own house. Granted, the Nippert Stadium crowd was scarce due to the unrelenting downpour which lasted from first to final whistle. However, in those wet conditions and on the road, the Union demonstrated some of their most precise and crisp passing in quite a while.

A look at the Union fortress that is Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit USA Today.

David Accam continued his offensive revival, with a goal and an assist, totaling three goals and two assists over the past two matches. Marco Fabián made his return from a two-game suspension by driving home Accam’s assist for his second goal of the season, and first during the run of play. Even more impressive, the Union defense notched its second clean sheet in a row, outscoring their opponents 5-0 over their last two (Columbus, Cincinnati).

Historically, the boys in blue have not fared well against FC Dallas. I know these clubs are very different from the last time they met up in 2018, but the visitors this weekend have clearly had the upper hand. The Union is a forgettable 1-5-5 against Dallas, and have been outscored 20-11 in the series. In two road matches this season, they are 1-1, with a 1-0 loss at Columbus and a 4-2 victory last week at Real Salt Lake. Keep in mind Dallas had a man-advantage from the 17th minute on after RSL’s starting #10, Damir Kreilach, was sent off with a red card for violent conduct. He leaned his head into Dallas midfielder, Carlos Guezo with the force of feather. This being professional soccer, Guezo launched himself into the stratosphere as if he’d just been sitting on a lit tank of nitroglycerin. Point being, the offensive outburst from Dallas last week should be taken with a grain of salt.

Dallas sports the youngest club in Major League Soccer. Just in their starting lineup last week, right back Reggie Cannon (20), midfielders, Edwin Cerrillo (18), Paxton Pomykal (19) and forward Jesús Ferreira (18) couldn’t drink at a Pennsylvania bar to celebrate a win on Saturday if they wanted to. I suspect first year coach, Luchi Gonzalez, will replace one of the youngsters in the starting lineup with Bryan Acosta. The Honduran International brings more experience and toughness that would be beneficial to team in a hostile road environment.

The Dallas back line is anchored by center back, Matt Hedges, and right back, Cannon. Hedges has been a stalwart for his club, starting over 200 matches since being drafted in 2012, winning MLS Defender of the Year in 2016, and chosen as a member of the MLS Best XI in 2015 and 2016. He’s one of the best. Cannon has impressed early on in his MLS career. He started 33 matches in his first full season in 2018 and is one of the fastest defenders in the league. You won’t get many over his head, even if you catch him off guard.

Coach Jim Curtin needs to do one thing Saturday night – run out the same lineup that shut-out FC Cincinnati. Jamiro Monteiro looked sharp as could be in his debut and will no doubt get another run versus FC Dallas. Having Monteiro, Cory Burke and Ilsinho as substitutes might be the best offensive trio the Union have ever had available off the bench in any match to date. Although I think the shut-out streak ends this Saturday night, the Union win streak will continue. And Fafa finally breaks through with his first goal of 2019.


Union: 2 FC Dallas: 1

Union Man of the Match: Fafa Picault

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Mandatory Credit: USA Today.

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